Hiring and Firing…..
Deciding to hire or fire… the decisions are opposite ends of the staffing spectrum, but the most important decisions you’ll make when building your team.
I blog on how to make the right hiring decisions regularly. This blog is about decisions to fire and makes the point that just like decisions to hire, when you use a well thought out “management” process, firing decisions can become much more routine, less intimidating. While both hiring firing decisions seem onerous, when managers make these decisions in the context of an overarching “staffing” process (with a systematic start and ending point) they become much more straight forward and less stressful – important benefits for small to medium sized businesses who aren’t rich in HR support.
This is not to say that deciding to hire or fire is easy or can be made without impact as that’s never the case. For as much as we would our firing decisions to be “no brainers”, for employees who are marginal, not dramatically violating company policy or standards, following a process that may or may not lead to firing is critical to making the right decision – for you, your employee, your team.
New managers, in particular, will struggle with firing decisions, particularly those where the performance issues are considered borderline. They recognize the serious impact a firing decision can have on their employee, their team, their customers, and ultimately their own careers. Some will obsess over these decisions to the point where they avoid them altogether – hoping the employee will somehow, some way, “get it” and become the productive team member everyone envisioned them to be when they were hired.
Waiting for things to change is not a process nor is it a strategy that strengthens your team.
In Jim Collin’s Good to Great, he made it clear that one of the primary missions of a leader was get and keep the right people on the “bus” (his word for team or company). He considered it the leaders most important job is to make good decisions about who to invite on the bus’s journey, and yes, on occasion, ask some bus riders to get off.
We think there is an important and overarching principle involved when it comes to firing….
Deciding to hire or fire? Leaders don’t fire people, people fire themselves.
Think about it this way – when a leader manages performance, sets standards, provides training and coaching to meet those standards, and provides feedback when the employee veers off track, it is the employee who gets to decide if they are going to meet the manager’s expectations, or not If the employee is either unable or unwilling to meet the expectations, they have the first option to terminate their own employment.
In a well-oiled “performance management system” its the employee not their manager who is in charge of their employment future!
Just like in the hiring process think there are specific steps leaders can take to put this overarching principle in play. In fact we’ve created a 7 point performance management program designed for managers who want to optimize the performance of their best employees while also having a process in place that will make firing decisions a less stressful and respectful way of managing performance.